Celebrate International Women’s Day with Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, TLC, & More (Video)

March is Women’s History Month, and as we get closer and closer to the presidential election in the United States, the likely reality of the country electing its first female president is a topic of excited discussion. Furthermore, 2020 will mark the centennial of women’s suffrage in the U.S., making it all the more fitting for there to be a Madame President in the Oval Office. Politics aside, however, this month is a much-needed excuse to honor the women of the past, present, and future who have and will continue to change the world, including the efforts of African American women whose voices and stories are often untold, infrequently remembered, or otherwise relegated to smaller platforms than those of others. With that in mind, the 1995 song “Freedom” was a posse cut for women, and then some. Featuring a chorus comprised of more than 60 Black female artists, it stands as a true testament to the strength, perseverance, and importance of the African American woman.

Produced by Dallas Austin, “Freedom” served as the theme song for the 1995 film Panther which starred Angela Bassett, Bobby Brown, Chris Rock, and Chris Tucker. Based on the history of the Black Panther Party and its many phases, the film is replete with themes relevant in today’s society, as is “Freedom.” With a full cast including Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, En Vogue, Lalah Hathaway, Monica, SWV, Vanessa Williams, Xscape, Zhané, and many more, the song serves as a tribute to heroines of America’s turbulent racial history including Shirley Chisholm, Angela Davis, Coretta Scott King, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth. In the version below, Queen Latifah, Yo-Yo, TLC, MC Lyte, Nefertiti, Salt-N-Pepa, Patra, and Meshell Ndegeocello perform the song’s Rap version with themes of respect, sisterhood, misogyny, and other contemporary issues facing women around the world spliced with images of the Black Panther Party’s female members, Malcolm X, and harrowingly all-too-familiar images of police brutality being waged against African Americans.

There was another video version released, this one featuring Karyn White, Caron Wheeler, Pebbles, Brownstone, Aaliyah, TLC, N’Dea Davenport (of the Brand New Heavies), Meshell Ndegeocello, and En Vogue.

As we salute women around the world, we remember the freedom fighters whose sacrifices continue to inspire, right here at home.

Related: MC Lyte & Rapsody Recount Racist Assaults & Open Up About Being Women in Hip-Hop